news releases

29 October 2021

Living the Legacy: 30 years of the Principles of Environmental Justice

Category: News Releases

October 29th, 2021, Monumental SHIFT announces its first National Monument Endorsement Campaigns to carry the legacy of the Principles of Environmental Justice, and call on President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to fulfill his campaign promises to protect lands and address the climate crisis.

It has been 30 years since environmental justice leaders convened during the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. Today, the environmental justice leaders at the forefront of public lands conservation efforts that make up Monumental SHIFT are carrying this legacy from 30 years ago by announcing our inaugural Monument endorsement campaign of two historic sites: Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range

These two sites hold the world’s largest Joshua Tree forest, and the world’s largest binational landscape respectively. Over it’s 7,000 acres of Mountains, Castner Range gives us a distinctive blanket of Yellow Mexican Poppy blooms during the Spring, and numerous archaeological and historical resources that date as far back as the Paleo, Archaic, and Indigenous groups. Spirit Mountain, known as Avi Kwa' Ame in Mojave, is a mountain within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area near Laughlin, Nevada. The entire area is considered sacred by ten Yuman-speaking tribes as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute. This area is continuously at threat of industrialization and development projects. We must defend its wildlife and traditional cultural practices of its native tribes. These two locations were selected by a coalition process,and to support the ongoing work on the ground by local groups.

The founding coalition members are composed of racially and ethnically diverse community leaders, thought partners, changemakers, and policy experts working to transform the way our country views, values, and enjoys national monuments. The Monumental SHIFT coalition has intentionally set up an operations map and monument candidate endorsement and selection process to ensure that equity is fundamentally a part of the coalition’s work and not just a buzzword. Essentially, the coalition allows for anyone to submit a New Monument Endorsement Opportunity Form, after which the coalition will hear from organizers and community members working on-the-ground leading the work to protect the proposed site. Finally, the coalition takes a vote on whether to endorse the monument or not, ensuring that everyone has an equal voice in the collective decision.

“For too long our communities have been intentionally sidelined in the decision making process in the creation, conception, funding, and stewardship of national monuments. Through Monumental SHIFT, we are placing ourselves in our rightful place as stakeholders and leaders in the environmental conservation dialogue. Today, we strongly urge President Biden to protect Castner Range and Avi Kwa Ame immediately. The cultural connections to Indigenous peoples of the area, local communities, and unique biodiversity of these two landscapes must be designated in order to be adequately protected.” Ángel Peña, Executive Director, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project

“This is a critical time to have our communities at the forefront of the movement for equitable monument designation. Hispanic Access Foundation is proud to be a leading coalition member, and we recognize the hard work that brought us here today. Castner Range and Avi Kwa Ame are incredibly beautiful and sacred places to so many of us in Monumental SHIFT, including Hispanic Access, and we are honored to work with community leaders on-the-ground in advocating to protect those lands and so many more.” Maite Arce, President & CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation

Monumental SHIFT launches these two monument endorsement campaigns today to call on the Biden-Harris Administration to fulfill their campaign promise to protect these two unique lands, and many more sacred places like them.

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